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Grantham Journal column: Town must retain A&E

By Lewis Herbert, leader of Cambridge city council

Coun Ray Wootten.
Coun Ray Wootten.

Having recently been taken ill in the early hours of the morning, I attended the A&E in Grantham Hospital. I was admitted and spent three days in hospital before being transferred to the Lincoln hospital for specialised treatment.

I can only praise all of the staff at both hospitals that looked after me and I would like to say thank you to them. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank those residents, friends and colleagues who have sent cards and best wishes to me.

During my time in hospital my thoughts drifted back to the NHS Delivering the Forward View: NHS planning guidance 2016/17-2020/21 document. It made excellent bedtime reading. On its introduction it asks trusts to carry out three important and essential tasks; first, to implement the five-year forward view; second, to restore and maintain financial balance; and third, to deliver core access and quality standards for patients. Included in this was an £8.4billion real terms increase in funding by 2020/21 front loaded.

Each trust had to produce a five-year Sustainability and Transformation Plan and a one-year operational plan. Locally in Lincolnshire we also have the Lincolnshire Health and Care Plan.

In the past I have repeatedly questioned the ULHT board on the future of Grantham Hospital and the future healthcare of our residents. I have always been given the same reply – Grantham Hospital has a bright future and nothing is going to change. It has a bespoke solution.

Staff I have spoken to continue to say to me that despite what the trust publicly says, they fear A&E will close with the loss of the emergency admissions unit. My direct question to the board is: Will A&E admissions continue at Grantham? If not then it is clear that things will change and be downgraded into an urgent care centre. So clearly a change of status and a loss of service.

At the local forum last week I was pleased to see 15 members of the public turn up. The trust’s representatives when questioned about the old hospital could offer no news on any redevelopment. Also there was no news on having a day case unit for elective surgery.

Grantham is a designated area for growth with the prospect of 14,000 homes being built over the next few years so a downgraded hospital is unwanted and unwarranted. Lincoln County Hospital continually breaches its four-hour waiting time target, has overflowing car parks and long waiting times at outpatients. We therefore need to retain A&E in Grantham.

I ask you when the (LHAC) Lincolnshire Health and Care Plan is out for consultation please let your views be known as we all need to stand together and be counted. Enough is enough, Grantham needs and deserves better.

Ray Wootten is a county and district councillor.


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